Resilient decision making in steam network investments
Steam is a key energy vector for industrial sites, used for process heating, direct injection and stripping, tracing and cogeneration of mechanical power. Steam networks transport steam from producers to consumers and across different pressure levels. The steam production equipments (boilers, cogeneration units and heat exchangers) should be dimensioned to always supply key consumers as well as to deal with extreme demand caused by exceptional events such as unit startups or extreme weather. An important issue to be dealt with is that of unexpected boiler shutdowns, which can take significant amounts of time to bring back online. In cases where demand surpasses the available production of steam, load shedding is necessary in order to keep the network operable. A penalty cost can be associated to load shedding. A well dimensioned steam network is one which is resilient to such events, being able to overcome extreme demand and unexpected boiler shutdowns at minimum cost. This paper proposes a methodology for evaluating the operability of a steam network when facing unexpected boiler shutdowns. A Monte-Carlo simulation is carried out on a multi-period steam network problem, randomly shutting down boilers according to their failure properties (probability of failure and duration of failure). The aim of this method is to evaluate how resilient a steam network is to boiler shutdowns. The Monte-Carlo simulation is applied to a steam network model built using a Mixed Integer Linear Programming (MILP) formulation, whose objective function is to minimise the operational costs of the steam network and therefore also to minimise the penalty costs associated to load shedding. A case study based on anonymised industrial data is used to demonstrate the method. Two investment propositions are evaluated and compared using the proposed method.